India’s telecom regulators do not directly allocate spectrum to enterprises for building private 5G networks. However, they have the option to lease it from private operators. As Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) prepare for this transition, they may face some challenges when moving from legacy systems to private 5G networks.
One of the main challenges is the security aspect. The architecture of 5G is different from previous mobile technologies, such as 4G. The new design is cloud-native, with software created using microservices and container technologies. This shift allows for enhanced security levels, as any breached service or code can be isolated and patched quickly.
It’s crucial to understand the key differences between private and public 5G networks. Public networks are owned and operated by large enterprises, whereas private networks are controlled by the entity that acquired them. This ownership difference affects the way these networks operate and their security protocols.
Public networks allow anyone with a compatible device to connect, which requires higher levels of authentication to prevent cyberattacks. In private networks, the enterprise has control over who can connect, and security can be managed through certificates or passwords.
Data transmissions in public networks use encryption with keys controlled by the network operators. This means that companies do not have complete control over data security. In private 5G networks, companies can choose encryption keys and protocols that offer better security. Additionally, public networks usually have a wider coverage area than private ones.
To address the security challenges, security officers need to be aware that access control and management rest in their hands for private networks. Encryption is essential for both network types, but in private networks, enterprises need to centralize and manage it.
In terms of security administration, SIM authentication plays a crucial role in private networks. Devices require a provisioned SIM to connect, unlike Wi-Fi networks where only a password is needed. SIMs can be configured to separate and protect data processing and storage from the network, and unique device identifiers can be encrypted for added protection.
Private 5G networks offer custom security policies and allow users complete control. This control and flexibility bring new opportunities and challenges for security officers in managing and securing these networks effectively.